On Tuesday, February 7, 2012, the Federal Appeals Court ruled that Proposition 8, more generally recognized as the ban on gay marriage, is unconstitutional, which will more than likely send the case to the Supreme Court. It was a 2-1 decision, and the three judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave opponents of gay marriage time to appeal before they allowed it to continue.
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect than to lessen the status and human dignity of gay men and lesbians in California,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt said.
Proposition 8 was originally a California ballot proposition whose purpose was to alter the existing California Constitution by adding a new section to Article I that would read: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.”
For this proposition to qualify for a spot on the California voting ballot, it needed a petition that was required to garner at least 694,354 signatures. The petition received 1,120,801 signatures, making it qualify for the November 4, 2008 election ballot. On election day 2008, the citizens of the state of California voted in favor of Proposition 8.
Some key leaders on the proponent side include Senator John McCain, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Congressman Tom McClintock, as well as 20 other Republican State Senators and Assembly members. Several religious organizations also support Proposition 8, for example, the Roman Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, and several other Christian organizations.
“The constitutional amendment [banning gay marriage] strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans . . . It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them,” McaCain said.
In March 2011, Speaker of the House John Boehner launched an effort to strike down Proposition 8 with the Defense of Marriage Act. He responded to Obama’s instruction to the Justice Department by no longer defending the constitutionality of a law that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
“The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts – not by the president unilaterally – and this action by the House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with our Constitution,” Boehner said.
Gingrich also speaks in favor of the proposition.
“There are a lot of practical relationships that we ought to find a way to accommodate. If your partner ends up in the hospital, there ought to be some ability to visit that partner. But I’m not in favor of creating the notion of gay marriage or gay adoption,” Gingrich said.
There are also several key figures on the opponent side. Such people include President Barack Obama, who stated that although he personally does not agree with same-sex marriage, he does not support “divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution.”
Vice President Joe Biden also opposes Proposition 8, along with California senators Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and several other politicians. There are also several religious institutions that have released statements in opposition to Proposition 8, including the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, all six Episcopal Diocesan bishops in California, and the California Council of Churches.